Sunday, March 04, 2012

Khamene'i on the Bomb

Juan Cole talks about Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamene'i's views on nuclear weapons:
"A week and a half ago, Khamenei gave a major foreign policy speech in which he said:

"'The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that the decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous.'

"Now, you could maintain that Khamenei is lying when he says he holds that possessing nuclear weapons is a grave sin. (You could also maintain that the Popes are lying when they say using birth control is a grave matter, but you’d have to explain why they put their papal authority on the line for a lie they weren’t forced to utter). But even if you think it is a lie, you have at least to report what he says. I guarantee you that Khamenei’s speech opposing nukes was not so much as mentioned on any of the major American news broadcasts."

Khamene'i's consistent views on this matter may or may not be truthful, but Cole is right that they should be reported. They are credible given Iran's victimization by weapons of mass destruction deployed by Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War, and the nuclear program is consistent with the desire of many nations to have nuclear power as a sign of national status.

Cole is also right that Khamene'i's views matter a lot more than those of President Ahmadinejad. From 1997-2005, when the reformist Muhammad Reza Khatami was president, conservatives compared the Iranian presidency to the head of a high school student council with the Supreme Leader as principal. That was an exaggeration, but the fact it was suddenly dropped when convenient villain Ahmadinejad came into office shows the duplicity of the rhetoric.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)



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